Who would have known if I do not know who Rick Stein is? No, I don't watch TV much, especially during the day (I'm a mother of two home-schoolers, remember?), nor that I have ever read his cookbook. Yes, I do collect Nigel Slater's cookbooks and a couple of Gordon Ramsay's, but none of Rick Stein's. That is why I am interested in taking Holly and Roz's offer to join their recent foodie event: Rick Stein Live on Stage while they're also looking for NZ Top Food Blogger. Not that I am looking forward to fetching such title, as for me it is not entirely important, but meeting other fellow NZ food bloggers on one special occasion will definitely be something worth. I have never met other fellow food bloggers in NZ than Barbara Harris of Winos and Foodies, whom now lives in Queensland, Australia and Gilli Wrightson of So So Simple. I'm just dreaming for NZ culinary people to organize such foodie blogger conference as an arena for all of food lovers to meet up on a certain regular basis, talk about food, and perhaps, food photography. There are many professional food photographers in New Zealand who can share their tips and tricks, don't you think? That'll be a superb event!
Anyway, on the occasion of the Hunt, I was thinking of something summery, like the fruit cheese that I made last Summer, using our heavy crops of homegrown Damson plums. But then, perhaps fruit cheese is not quite an NZ culture, though Kiwis love to pair wine with cheese. Fruit cheese is more English in a way, so I decided to cook/bake something close to Kiwi's traditional sweet tooth treats. Furthermore, as I don't drink wine or other alcohol, I cannot cover such report to you to describe the best words of full enjoyment.
So, I then decided to bake Richard Till's Chocolate Square from his latest cookbook "Makes It Easy". I love Richard and certainly love his humble cooking and eccentric way of entertaining us through his cooking program. He's alike Nigel Slater, very homey and simple. I fell in love with his words about this chocolate square "I think my mother would have liked it for two reasons-because it is very quick to make and because it made me so happy." You know what? It does make my children happy too!
When I read the recipe, I knew it is going to be really sweet for me, especially I have to use gluten-free flour to substitute the wheat flour, although Richard wrote that it wouldn't work. With substitution, I tend to increase the use of gluten-free flour (with or without almond meal) to the use of regular flour in the recipe (in this case, I use 1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour and 2 Tbs potato starch), and not to use any leavening agent. In the gluten-free baking mix package that I use, there has already had leavening agent which I supposedly is good enough. Too much leavening agent will make the baking goods too thin in texture somehow. Another alternative, I'd use egg yolk or whole egg to give a 'body' on baked goods such as this chocolate square.
I have to reduce the amount of sugar to 80g only and increase the use of cocoa to 1/4 cup. I use Valrhona cocoa powder because I like its intense luscious dark flavour which can balance the sweetness of sugar. I am not too fancy with too sweet baked goods, like those in some cafes I sometimes go to. Brownies should taste more chocolaty rather than sugary, otherwise a $3 slice is sadly a waste of money and a danger warning to teeth care.
This is the result of chocolate square gluten-free version.
It is a thin slice, alright. So thin that you almost like eating flatten Afghan biscuits, without walnut pieces. Cornflakes give crunchy impact on the sweetness of sugar and dark flavour of cocoa. With thin glaze of chocolate icing and a hint of vanilla essence, it is a complete treat for a sweet tooth. Although I have reduced the amount of icing sugar, this thin slice still tastes so sweet, especially with the addition of chocolate icing. It is a perfect slice for lunch boxes, an afternoon treat after muddy Saturday sport day, and surely is a winner amongst kids and kids-at-heart adults!